Stephanie Sant on Stephanie Sant


The Riddle Riddles

In my recent install I wanted to apply my personal exploration of Alchemy into my work.  Alchemy is “a vibrant, pictorial language where every detail is meaningful” and although very representative in its visual depictions, the method itself involves the making of primordial soup, which I linked to my search for defamiliarisation and non-representation. I also appreciate the notion of the ‘Magnum Opus’, the greatest attempt of achieving quintessence by turning base metals into gold through the process of exhaltation, which I find to be dearly linked to the artist’s journey into producing a work of art through any type of media or intent.

I decided to apply Alchemy to Heidegger’s ‘Thing’ by dealing with man’s first tool and what could possibly be the earliest known paradigm shift of civilization- a branch from a tree. ‘The Thing’ is a very meaningful essay to me as an artist and as a human being and the phrase ‘in the realm of the essence lies the truth’ when Heidegger speaks of the jug reminds me of the way Romantic Poet John Keats addresses a Grecian Urn in his poem ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’ in which he concludes with ‘beauty is truth, truth beauty’. I retained my exploration of defamiliarisation by filming the ‘making of the soup’ in abstract close-ups of the ‘cooking’ process, which in itself was alchemy with ordinary materials such as fizzy drinks, cooking oil, gold leaf, chilli flakes, bicarbonate of soda and the sticks themselves. As in my previous installation, I also explored duration in sound by speeding up and slowing down ordinary sound effects such as the sound of boiling water and of metallic pots being filled up to beyond recognition.

I projected the video in a relatively small format and at a very low height close to a corner. I then closed off a section of the room by moving bookshelves around a sofa in order to have a cosy, almost-nurturing space for the viewer to sit in and be defamiliarised. Besides the video, I placed a horizontal plinth with a gilded stick as an ode to the ‘thing’ which, when brought ‘near’ through defamiliarisation, is again perceived in its purest essence and splendour.

During the feedback session Daniel, Sooki and Pat all seemed to agree that my filming the process interrupted the otherwise magic and flow of alchemy and that they would have much preferred if I conducted the Magnum Opus life as a performance piece or else both as a performance piece linked with video and involving the gilded stick as a cross-media collage. They also acknowledged that the visual document itself was too chronological and rational and that I didn’t exploit enough the magical possibilities of the moving image. The end result was very literal and illustrative, where I still had plenty of room left to build around the film and object. I appreciated this feedback as it pushed me in a direction which is still very open but with better possibilities. On this note I would like to return to possibly using performers and make my work more as a performance piece across all media.

Klossowski de Mela, S. (1973). Alchemy, The Secret Art. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. IV.


Mike Sung in Mike Sung

2015-01-26 11.55.17After this stage of work, I can feel the power of working collaboratively. Indeed, I have done so before, but this time it feels like a preparation of the midterm show that is going to take place in March. Up till now, I have been through Starting Point, and Reflectonation, each with monthly intervals. Each of them indicates a stepping stone of my progress, and they serve as really good instructions to my next steps.

This time, a bell was rung in my brain about the decipher mechanism with my topic: technology and humanity. I started thinking about how can it be presented. At first, I was looking for elements that can show the evolution of technology and how humanity is changed by this evolution. So I chose an analogue camera, which is a very old module that not many people have seen it, apparently. The formula is related to the modulation of the information era and the evolution from the analogue age. At the same time, I wanted to present how imagination works through the lens, for which I made this machine not in a big scale, trying to make it stang among all the other works. 2015-01-26 12.12.08

The way of showing the RGB cubes is the what has happened at the moment, resulting from the digitalisation of the information that was once recorded with chemicals. I faced the camera towards the blank wall in order to clarify the abstract sense of imagination. The glitter shows the imagination, whilst the white ball represents a particle of light. The most interesting point is again the feedback and the aspects from the audiences. It was said to be there is the other way round of the mechanism of the imagination. And is was also said to lok like a mouse trap that takes the cubes into the camera. Whichever way it is, I hope to create a special experience of viewing for the audience by arranging the plinth that blocks the way of the exhibition. 2015-01-26 11.56.32

Alix Edwards on Alix Edwards

I am currently exploring how to create art of protest which moves people on an intuitive and emotional level.

3 of the 29 children
3 of the 29 children

The installation ‘29’ is part of a body of work entitled ‘By Numbers’ which translates statistics, used to summarize the impact of domestic violence in the UK into tangible entities. My intention in creating  this work was to expose the legal system that had caused these 29 child deaths however I found myself questioning the impact of statistics used by organisations like Women’s Aid to further their cause, when those statistics, just like the ‘public’ photographs which John Berger discusses in his essay Uses of Photography offer information ‘severed from all lived experience’[1] when they are repeatedly presented in ‘marketing’ literature in numerical form.

16/29 and 22/29
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I began to ask what that number 29 actually means and decided to create something tangible that you can touch to recapture its meaning. My original concept was to install 29 blank, floating, ghost-like sheets in a candlelit space the size of a small chapel approximately 4 metres wide by  6 metres deep that you would walk through to reach a sparkling altar. Each sheet, cut to the correct height of each dead child was to be suspended from the ceiling at ‘head’ height with slightly different clips to capture an aspect of the child’s personality however the opaque white sheets looked dull because they lacked the essence of the children so I took some time to find this though meditation and painted the ‘soul’ of each child onto their ‘sheet’.

I used bright, acrylic primary and secondary colours in tones sold by primary school suppliers to create a child-friendly ambiance and added glue, gold and glitter to the paint and as separate layers on top of the paintings to create childish magic and sparkle. It was not possible to display the ‘children’ as I had envisaged because of the concrete ceiling in the space. Instead groups of  ‘children’ were displayed in different areas of the space, not all with candles, however this worked better as it created ambiguity in the meaning, which the audience may or may not discover.

When painting the sheets I found myself wondering how these children had been murdered.  I preferred the more elaborate paintings with smaller brush strokes (16/29, 22/29) however those sheets which maintained a child-like innocence with larger blocks of colour (7/29) worked better hung and I realized that this is where the power of this installation is: in its ‘childlike’ multiplicity however sometimes the most simple ideas are the most complicated to execute! The sheets hung in an                                                     undefined space worked whereas the sheets hung in a row did not.

The sheets hung in ‘space’ with room to move did not rely on a fixed focal point for the viewer whereas those in a row like Holbein’s skull [2] only worked when seen from the side, but this viewpoint  does not translate as a photograph to show the work to people on-line, so I am currently experimenting with perspective, brush strokes and adding a visual element to the back of the sheets to resolve these issues.

Hung in a row
Hung in a row

[1] Berger, J. 1991, About Looking, Vintage Books, New York, p56

[2] Holbein (the Younger), Hans. The Ambassadors. 1533. The National Gallery, London.

Aurelie Berry on Aurelie Berry

Colours in Translation – my project is based on Proust’s In Search of Lost Time on the specific theme of translation at two levels : as a French reader who works in English, and as a photographer who attempts to translate Proust’s imagery.

There exist 4 translations of the novel into English ; (1) Scott Moncrieff’s in 1922, (2) a revised translation of the former in the 1980s by Terence Kilmartin and then D J Enright in 1992 and (3) finally the 2003 translation by Lydia Davis.

I used a simple sentence from the first volume : the narrator looks through the window and sees “des flocons eclaires par quelque aurore“. ‘Flocons’ is translated either as flakes or snowflakes and ‘eclaires’ is translated either by illuminated or illumined (illumined is the poetic, literay form of illuminated but has the same meaning). Neither of those affect the meaning or imagery particularly. However, the last part ‘quelque aurore’  proved difficult, as it affects the colours and the imagery. One translation is sunrise (the yellow light once the sun has risen), another dawn (white light and first light of day before the sun hits the horizon) and the third aurora (pink light although it is not commonly understood that way in English). ‘Aurore’ in French is the pink light that comes straight after dawn, however in English it is mostly used in conjunction with Aurora Borealis and has a more vivid light to it. There was also the issue of integrating a time frame to the work as language evolves and the use of words change – for instance illumined was used in 1922 and 1981 but not in the 2003 translation ; aurora is perhaps more in use today thanks to people being more familiar with aurora borealis?


The challenge was to merge the multiple layers : the translation itself, the evocative imagery and colours linked to that translation, the evolution of language and imagery over time, the understanding of words and finally my own translation into a set of images.

I used Mark Rothko’s imagery (strata of colours and their variations). I think the weakness of my project resides in too much layering for it to be accessible without explanation. Yet, those layers are what I found interesting, so perhaps I need to rethink how to present the project. Another issue was the integration of text and image, which I hadn’t properly thought through. Daniel suggested I look at Sophie Calle and Richard Long for text and image. On the language aspect, Foucault’s essay on This is not a pipe and Derrida’s The Truth in Painting were recommended.

Juan Covelli on Juan Covelli


This video installation is a continuation of my exploration of what it means to
have a body in the digital era. As I have previously stated in this blog, my
interest is in the idea of a gender identity. I have stated that gender is a social
construction and as a consequence, we have a gendered body. “Our body
nowadays is no longer a “natural” given body, it has been constructed
culturally and socially. “The body” is a social, cultural, and historical
production: “production” here means both product and process. As a product,
it is the material embodiment of ethnic, racial, and gender identities, as well as
a staged performance of personal identity, of beauty, of health (among other
things. As a process, it is a way of knowing and marking a “self”.”1 I’m
continuously trying to break the dualistic idea of gender identity. I believe that
you can be both male and female or something else, such as transgender or
even genderless.

2 _MG_6623

In this video installation we see two monitors facing each other across the
gallery space. In one of the monitors there is a video showing a self-portrait
composed of various images, one on top of each other, creating a somewhat
disturbing effect. Some of the images are pictures of my face while others are
3D models of my face. These images are constantly changing and
transforming into a female version of my face and then going back to my real
“male” face. In the other monitor, the audience can see a constant flow of text,
of various conversations I have had on a dating application called Tinder. I
wanted to decontextualize the text from its original form, in order to draw
attention to the words, rather to the interface of the application, as I have done

The general feedback for the installation was positive. I feel that the audience
engaged with it and the text placed the viewer in a voyeuristic or intrusive
position, making it interesting. The question was raised as to whether the
images were necessary or if the text alone was sufficient. Some comments
suggested that the video was rather flat. Further comments suggested
bringing it to a more interactive stage.

1 Balsamo, A. 1997, Technologies of the gendered body, Duke University Press,
London, pg.3

Mariya Bilyan On Mariya Bilyan

The attention of the work ‘Fusion‘ was to show the multiplicity of our contemporary world, especially the world of social media. We live in a time of information where knowledge plays the essential role for human beings. Yet there is a deceiving moment in believing that we are correctly informed. The gigantic flow of information is doubled, hybridized and fusioned. Thus the information people receive every second and every minute loses any substantial meaning, originality and reality.

The work that was presented on Monday had a format of three middle-sized prints. They were located scatteringly high on the walls in order to give the impression of an oppressive, not directly visible controlling power. The photographs of the political news were taken by using a kalejdoskop.The visual effect creates the impression of multiplicity of an image which is every time different yet always the same. By using the kaleidoscope my intention was to show the juxtaposition of A naive child’s world and the world of social media and propaganda. Nowadays even the most horrifying news are perceived infantilized as a mixture of multiple colorful bright spots. It is not the veracity of the news which is important to public opinion but the amount of them.

During the install the work was perceived positively, yet there was slight criticism for using not appropriate media. According to some viewers a photographic image is not the ideal media to use in this project. As my project intends to criticize the contemporary world of news as a source of propaganda it was suggested to try using a more powerful media such as video installation instead of photography. As it was articulated, a video may help express the continuous flow of information and evoke an atmosphere of a constant attack on people’s minds also using sound effects.

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2015-01-10 12.06.19

Ilayda Bilgin on Ilayda Bilgin

To begin with, I would like to express that I choose test tubes as an objects for my installation because they are powerful objects for me to describe what I want to do. In my point of view, test tubes remind me the process in dark room. During this progress, first the paper has been exposed is processed, first immersion by in a photographic developer, halting development with a stop bath and fixing in a photographic fixer. Moreover, we use some chemicals in the dark room for producing photographical images. What I was trying to do, to create an image with test tubes as flashing lights. In that sense, I made my own dark room as an installation.

Lights have a lot of meaning in photography that without them there is no exposure, which means there are no photographical images. For that reason I made a dark room with craft board with putting plenty of test tubes and setting the flashing lights behind the tubes. When the lights were flashing, there were other reflections instead of test tubes, which creates a different variety of images. Adding that, I poured several neon colors inside of the tubes, which refers to colors that I capture when I take a picture. However, the audience didn’t even realise about the colours. The only thing to get their attention was the reflection of the test tubes and the flashing lights.

On the other hand, Daniel and Pat commented on the lights and colors as an acidic, which reminds a nightclub. The most important point for them was the lighting, which creates images. Both were wondering what images would it be. Daniel recommended me to use a better strobe lights rather than flashing lights because of the frequency. Besides, If I have used a bigger space, it would be more clear and easier to understand all images which I created by lights.






At the first attempt, I have painted a lot of images about flowers and landscapes. When the colorful oil pastels covered in the pictures, they are indeed beautiful, and everyone will be attracted by the appearance of beauty. But the “Beauty” is a dangerous thing. It is often hard to arouse people’s thinking. After I painted these pictures, I stopped. I do not want to use the beauty to translate the beauty. I prefer to exchange horrible things into something beautiful.

Then I decided to choose landfill to paint. Rubbish is a part of daily life. Like a photograph retains a moment and old memory, every object we throw away also leaves in memories and records the way we live. The entire landfill is like a huge “memory base” or “database”. Second, I think refusal has some certain political meaning. I tried to take some photos in the reuse and recycling center in London, but the staff stopped me and forced me to leave. This forbidden action enriched the connotation of garbage. Rubbish might destroy the beauty of a city and should be fold, but it is inevitable that rubbish is also open. I think landfill will became the last landscape in the world. This is because there are full of garbage around us, and people might be adapted to live with rubbish. Landfill might be as spectacular as landscape in the future.

I use oil pastels to elevate the “kitch” color and create a beautiful appearance. The rubbish should never be as colorful and humorous as my picture. It also challenges viewers to decide what is aesthetic.

In this install, I chose to hang my pictures higher than our view originally. This is because camera, printer and I as three machines cooperated to complete these images. Myself as a thinking machine ultimately defeated the other machines. I will not simply repeat an image like camera or printer, but to gain and strengthen “aura”(Benjamin,W. 1963) during translation. It could be said that I want to find “authority” in my work, which could be able to arouse people’s consciousness to rethink images. Rubbish should not be trampled under our foot, but should be worshiped. So raising your neck to look at them may increase the irony in the work. But Suky and Daniel suggested me to hang lower our apparent horizon. Finally I adopted their opinions. I am glad to do something differently and then have a look what will happens. Unexpectedly, it was nice.

Recently, I am thinking about what else could I do. First, Daniel proposed me to scan the original painting. As Deleuze, G (1977, P.1) states in his book Anti-Oedipus, “Everywhere it is machines – real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections.” It is really interesting that my picture translated by the machine again. The endless translation also correspond my understanding of the “duration ” brief. In addition, I also consider to do a performance, recording the process of painting and showing how did I as a machine work.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1977). Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, P.1.

Benjamin,W. (1963) The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Available at: (Accessed: 15 January 2015).